Community voices in Luzy: village of the future, mates of the future

I am part of the facilitation team supporting POTEs (Ordinary Energy Transition Pioneers) at Energy Cities. POTEs are every-day-life innovators and visionaries working in areas related to the energy transition that Energy Cities, the Bourgogne Franche-Comté Region and ADEME, the French national energy conservation and environment agency, are forming into a network.
As part of this initiative, we organise visits to various POTEs so they can meet, share ideas and build projects. On Wednesday 12th July, we were at Luzy to discover the Village in Transition movement.

Flashback to an intense summer day!

“This is Luzy in the Nièvre département, there will be a 2-minute stop”. Most of the project facilitation team, a few POTEs and guests invited to today’s meeting get off the train: local players, elected representatives, craftspeople, teachers and about fifty participants had replied to the invitation.

We had arranged to meet at the Horizon, a third place used for meetings, activities and workshops which helps the local population in its energy transition journey and contributes to the thinking of the whole village, elected representatives and citizens alike.
Jérôme, Matthias and Isabelle, three village residents, present the Horizon to us. They ask themselves and us questions about running this structure, which they would like to be open and welcoming, but which has run into financial difficulties (rents, charges etc.). We promise to explore these problems with them that afternoon and try to find solutions to help.

After a brief presentation of the activities by the mayor, Jocelyne Guérin, and the project manager, Marion Coiseur, we go on a tour of the village. Dynamic and enterprising, they show us the various initiatives that have made Luzy a village of the future.
Are these municipal initiatives? No! They are those of citizens and users. 
The farmers’ corner, the associative café, the Horizon, the donation shed, etc… all derive from citizens, with the municipality providing support!

A wonderful citizen energy

And what is happening where you come from?” Pepik (Monsieur le lion), who has been with Energy Cities, the Bourgogne Franche-Comté Region and ADEME since the beginning of the POTEs adventure, asks us. 
The audience is amazed at the number of initiatives and the motivation of the residents and all agree that Luzy and its experiments are quite exceptional.
All the same, there is a lot going on in our villages: Michel Maya, mayor of Tramayes, tells us how his village got together to renovate a building to house two families from Syria and Afghanistan.
Jean-Louis Dufour, mayor of Chamole, explains how 6 wind turbines and a cooperative society of collective interest, Jurascic, were set up.
Tobit Caudwell, from a village close to Luzy, hopes to get local people involved in making his area too a village of the future.

1 pm: picnic time! Between POTEs friends, of course!
A local meal has been prepared and a few people have brought some specialities to share. The picnic atmosphere is as great as we had imagined it a few months back when preparing the visit: plenty of sun, good humour, check tablecloths and tables by the river, it is all there… except time for a nap!

What are the values shared by POTEs?
Carine Dartiguepeyrou tells us about these values based on the 48 interviews conducted with the first POTEs to join the project. POTEs are efficient and innovative… they collaborate and take care of others. Yes, they take care of others by helping them make progress in their project and overcome difficulties.
A good example of this is the “hold-up”method, a collective intelligence tool used for the third place the Horizon and the farmers’ corner at Luzy. Starting with an issue faced by each structure, the participants put forward solutions to help the Horizon find a new business model and the farmers’ corner perpetuate its activity.

How can villages contribute to the energy transition of the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region?

Frank discussions between the various regional stakeholders, elected representatives, citizens and the Energy and Societal Transition Laboratory based in Nantes to understand what is working in Luzy and what should be done to extend the initiative on a larger scale.
Luzy is a village in transition. What can be done to increase this momentum and get the surrounding villages on board?

5 pm marks the end of an intense, stifling (it was very hot) but highly energetic day.
Some participants have come out of curiosity, others maybe just to reply to the Bourgogne Franche-Comté Region’s invitation but all will return home with new ideas, contacts and energy and with the feeling of not being alone.

The future of the Region is in the hands of the POTEs” Anne-Marie Dumont, Bourgogne Franche-Comté regional councillor, aptly concludes. It is a nice prediction. What is certain is that this day at Luzy has reinforced the momentum of this POTEs network as well as the feeling that we can rely on each other to find solutions to move forward and accelerate the energy, ecological and societal transition in our region.

Find all pictures on Flickr

(*) POTEs : Ordinary Energy Transition Pioneers
In French a “pote” means “mate”

©photos/dessins : Energy Cities, Pepik Henneman


Publication date

July 11, 2018